'Torture' | 

Thug who padlocked man to steering wheel and racially abused him has sentence increased

In his victim impact statement, the man said he had been a victim of "psychological torture".

Stock image© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Paul NeilanSunday World

An addict who chained a man to the steering wheel of an abandoned car in a "humiliating" attack over an alleged drug debt is to be jailed, after his original suspended sentence was found to be too lenient by the Court of Appeal.

The victim had told the sentencing court that he was put under "psychological torture", where he was racially abused and kept under the eyes of the defendant, his friends and a growling Belgian Shepherd dog.

Mark Kearney (44) of Cedarhurst, Newtown Cross, The Ward, Co Meath, was sentenced to three-years, fully suspended, at Meath Circuit Criminal Court in April 2022 for the false imprisonment of a man at Cedarhurst on November 10, 2018. Kearney had pleaded guilty to the charge.

The court heard that Kearney came into contact with the man by chance at a property in Ballymun in Dublin, where there was a dispute about monies owed.

The two men took "illicit" substances at the apartment and after a number of hours the injured party was taken from Ballymun to Kearney's Cedarhurst home, travelling by car with two others.

CCTV showed that between 5.14am and 6.26am the man was removed from the vehicle and tied up by Kearney in a disused car where he was left for a number of hours.

Kearney used a chain and a padlock to tie the man's right wrist to the steering wheel and left the vehicle unlocked.

Kearney then took the man's socks and shoes but then brought him a blanket and apologised for what he was doing.

The next day at 2.53pm, the man managed to free himself from the car and fled.

The injured party then flagged down a passing motorist who took him to Blanchardstown Garda Station where the chain, still attached to his wrist, was cut off.

The man told gardaí that before leaving him Kearney said: "I'll see you in the morning. I'll bring you some coffee and we can go to Western Union and you can get us our money."

A warrant was executed on the Cedarhurst property and gardaí found the complainant's shoes, socks, a Congolese passport and other personal property.

In an interview with gardaí, Kearney admitted the crime and alleged that the injured party owed him drug money over a debt built up in his name.

In his victim impact statement, the man said he had been a victim of "psychological torture".

"I was verbally abused and kept under the eye of Mark and his friends and a growling Belgian Shepherd dog. He racially abused me, calling me a 'black bastard'."

"I knew I was being brought back to Mark's house but I did not know what they were going to do with me.

" It was torture and I was afraid. I was terrified and believed that I was going to die.

"Mark tied me up like a dog to an old car in the yard with a link chain and he took off my shoes and socks and left me in the freezing cold overnight," he said.

At the sentencing court, several positive testimonies were given to Judge Terence O'Sullivan regarding Kearney's ability for rehabilitation and supporting him in turning his life around.

Kearney had 25 previous convictions and made an apology to the injured party and to the court and guards, saying he was sorry for wasting their time.

The court heard that Kearney started taking drugs at 15 years of age.

The sentencing judge described the crime as one of "annoyance with this particular guy basically running up debts on his behalf [Kearney's] and then not paying up".

The judge said the case had served as a "wake up call" for Kearney who was attending a narcotics anonymous group and making other attempts at rehabilitation.

The sentencing judge suspended the three-year sentence for three years, ordering Kearney to be of good behaviour, engage with probation services and keep all appointments regarding rehabilitation.

The State successfully appealed the sentence on grounds of undue leniency and today Kearney was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the State had submitted that the man's restraint over the 10 hours was "significant, uncomfortable, terrifying and humiliating", adding that the maximum sentence for false imprisonment was life in jail.

In quashing the original, suspended sentence, Mr Justice McCarthy said the headline sentence should have been seven years.

In re-sentencing Kearney, Mr Justice McCarthy said: "We think that in the light of the mitigating factors, the appropriate sentence is five years.

" We think that it is important, in order to incentivise rehabilitation, that a portion of the sentence be suspended on terms. We accordingly will suspend the last two years and six months."

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